Is the box office back?
Hollywood is hoping Universal Pictures reports that the ninth installment of the Fast & Furious franchise, “F9: The Fast Saga,” is expected to gross $ 68 million across 4,179 screens – the most theaters for a single movie since. that the pandemic shut down the movie business in March 2020.
The opening revenue of the series which started 20 years ago and raised $ 6.2 billion in total worldwide box office revenue is within the range of previous iterations of the racing action series. automotive – which peaked in 2015 when “Furious 7” made $ 147 million in its debut weekend and climaxed in 2006 with “The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”, which grossed just 23 , $ 9 million on its opening weekend.
Internationally, the most recent film has already earned over $ 300 million, with the majority of ticket sales coming from China, where “F9” recently passed the $ 200 million mark.
For Universal Pictures, however, the success of the opening is justification for a studio that, at the onset of the pandemic, decided to delay its potential blockbuster for a whole year – a move that was seen as excessive when it did. was announced in early March 2020.
“Looking back, it turned out to be a very good decision,” Donna Langley, president of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group, said in an interview on Saturday. “We’ve had a range of best to worst case scenarios, and this is the best.”
“F9,” directed by Justin Lin and starring Vin Diesel and Michelle Rodriguez, isn’t the first film to perform well since theaters began reopening. Paramount’s bet to delay the release of “A Quiet Place 2” has also borne fruit. While the studio has sold some of its other properties, including “Coming 2 America” and the upcoming “The Tomorrow War” to streamers eager to get their hands on additional content, it has retained “A Quiet Place 2” , the John Krasinski-directed a horror sequel, until Memorial Day weekend last month and racked up $ 135 million in the United States and over $ 200 million worldwide.
Others weren’t so lucky. “In the Heights” by Warner Bros. Entertainment, for example, has seen a muted airing in theaters despite rave reviews from critics. Since opening simultaneously in theaters and on the company’s streaming service, HBO Max, on June 11, the Broadway adaptation of Lin Manuel Miranda’s musical has only grossed $ 22.5 million.
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“I would characterize the film market over the past month as ‘tentative’,” said David A. Gross, owner of Franchise Entertainment Research, a film consulting firm. “It’s hard to get a clear reading because of the confusion of streaming options – different for each movie. “
Indeed, the pandemic has only accelerated Hollywood’s interest in experimenting with release models for its feature films, and this flexibility is expected to continue for the foreseeable future.
While moviegoers could see “Quiet Place” and “Fast 9” only in theaters, most of the other new releases on offer over the past month offered consumers multiple viewing options, clouding the ultimate success of these since-delayed films. long time. For example, Disney’s “Cruella” has grossed nearly $ 71 million since it opened on May 28, in addition to what it has earned on the company’s streaming service, Disney +, which charges an additional $ 30 million. viewers.
The movie industry has high expectations of Marvel’s return to theaters, but “Black Widow,” starring Scarlett Johansson, won’t be an exclusive theatrical release; it will also be available on Disney + for an additional fee. In contrast, the Warner Bros. “Space Jam: A New Legacy” will be free to consumers on HBO Max when it hits theaters, similar to Universal’s “Boss Baby” sequel, which, in a rare studio twist, hits theaters and for free on its streaming service, Peacock.
Are all of these exit strategies confusing for moviegoers?
Mrs. Langley doesn’t think so. “Consumers definitely seem to find movies, whether it’s in a theater or on one of the streamers,” she said. “I think the question becomes what she says about the impact she’s having on the theater industry.”
Mr. Gross says it’s going to take a while to sort out.
“You don’t shut down a $ 42 billion business for 15 months, revamp the rooms and expect it to return to full strength in a month or two,” he said. “The effects of the pandemic will take some time to heal. The new normal is coming – it’s not here yet.